What is the Cost of Living in UAE?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) can be rightfully called a man made wonder. This country comprising 22 cities, is also home to several manmade islands such as the Universe Archipelagos, the World, and Palm Jumeirah Island. 

About 85% of the populace lives in the cities. With only a few rural areas, such as Al Hayl, Al Badiyah, Al Khari, and Al Bitnah, UAE is overwhelmingly urban. 

Besides sharing an excellent liking for exotic pets, luxurious cars, gold embellishments, and all things gourmet, the people of UAE are also known for their love for education. The country has one of the highest literacy rates among men and women – 96%! 

However, all students applying to courses in UAE start with a common question – what is the minimum cost of living in UAE?

In general, the cost of living in UAE for international students will largely depend upon the university as well as the area of the dwelling. 

UAE Top universities 

The table below lists the top 10 universities to study in UAE –

Name of the University QS WUR 2023
United Arab Emirates University 296
Zayed University 701 -750
University of Sharjah 601 – 650
American University of Sharjah 369
Ajman University 651 – 700
Khalifa University 181
Abu Dhabi University 651 – 700
Canadian University Dubai 541 – 550
Dubai University College 801 – 1000
American University in Dubai 651 – 700

Cost of Attendance As Per Course Level 

The cost of attendance in the UAE includes college tuition, books, and service fees. This cost will largely depend upon the city as expensive cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi will bring a high cost of attendance as compared to affordable ones like Ajman and Rasal Khama. 

Given below is the breakdown for each of the top universities –

Name of the University UG Course Fee  PG Course Fee  PhD Course Fee Student Housing
United Arab Emirates University 1,900 AED – 3,000 AED per credit hour 1,600 AED – 2,750 AED per credit hour 1050 AED – 1,080 AED per credit hour 5,600 AED per semester
University of Sharjah 42,000 AED – 118,300 AED annually 3,045 AED per credit hour  6,090 AED per credit hour 3,428 AED – 17,714 AED
Zayed University 2,500 AED per credit hour 2,333 AED – 4,267 AED No PhD courses offered 1,625 AED – 3,000 AED monthly
American University of Sharjah 100,940 AED annually 119,400 AED – 164,670 AED annually 269,460 AED – 299,400 AED annually 4,000 AED – 34,460 AED
Ajman University 1,125 AED – 2,750 AED per credit hour 2,000 AED – 4,500 AED per credit hour 1,405 AED – 4,510 AED per semester
Khalifa University 3,333 AED per credit hour 5,000 AED per credit hour 6,666 AED per credit hour 20,000 AED per semester
Abu Dhabi University 21,600 AED – 30,260 AED per semester 8,640 AED – 27,720 AED per semester No PhD courses offered 8,700 AED – 16,300 AED per term
Canadian University Dubai 68,386 AED annually  97,104 AED annually  No PhD courses offered 1,070 AED – 4,014 AED per month
Dubai University College Fee not available Fee not available  Fee not available No rent available
American University in Dubai 1,600 AED – 12,500 AED per semester 4,284 AED per credit – 225,000 AED per program No PhD courses offered 8,500 AED – Fall and Spring semester each for shared occupancy, 12,500 AED for single

5,700 AED for Summer I and II sessions (shared occupancy), 8,500 AED for single 

Fee Range As Per Study level 

The students who wish to study abroad in the UAE will find their college tuition fees (and other fees) the most affordable based on the city they choose to study. Dubai and Abu Dhabi will be expensive, wherein the undergraduate course fee can range anywhere from 37,500 AED to 70,000 AED. 

Cities in UAE with low costs of living, such as Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Al Ain, Ajman, and Sharjah, offer colleges that charge lower fees. The undergraduate course fee can range between 19,000 AED and 28,600 AED. 

Similarly, postgraduate course fees in expensive cities can range between 55,000 AED and 75,000 AED annually. In affordable cities like Rasal Khama, the same will range between 12,500 AED to 45,000 AED. 

As for Doctoral courses, the fee range in Dubai extends between 129,000 AED and 360,000 AED. The same in other cities would be anywhere from 50,000 AED to 70,000 AED. 

Rent Range 

What is the minimum cost of living in UAE? It all starts with the rent. Since the country has some sought-after cities, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, housing is not challenging to find. However, these areas can be expensive. 

The rent range will mainly depend upon the chosen city as well as the housing type. The country offers everything – from high-rise apartments to townhouses and villas in gated complexes. Rental contracts across the country last for a year and incur heavy fines if broken. 

On average, the cost of living in UAE for Indian students in terms of rent can be seen in the table below –

Housing Type Rent Range (in AED per month)
One-bedroom apartment 2,500 – 6,500
Two-bedroom apartment 4,500 – 10,000
Three-bedroom apartment 10,000 – 20,000
Villa 6,250 – 15,000
Townhouse  7,000 – 20,000


Another factor that impacts the average cost of living in UAE is utility bills. These will largely depend upon the type of accommodation as well as the rental contract. 

Even regarding utilities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi come across as the two most expensive UAE cities. The utility bill will include electricity, water connection, television, internet package, and smartphone plans. 

On average, monthly utilities can cost anywhere between AED 800 and AED 1200. The charges may differ between summer and winter months due to AC usage. Again, mobile plans and entertainment channels will change the average monthly costs. 

This cost of living in UAE for a family will be further different (higher). 


The cost of studying in UAE also includes costs of books, both purchased through the university and otherwise. Depending on the university, formal learning books may cost between 1000 AED and 1,800 AED. 

For reference, self-help, and other kinds of books, students can scour through brick-and-mortar stores, online marketplaces, etc. There are even second-hand bookstores, such as Dubizzle and House of Prose, where students may find paperback versions at discounted prices. 

Some books sell at 55% of the retail price! The country also houses several knowledge-packed libraries where books can be easily exchanged. Some top libraries include The Old Library, Al Bahia Park Library, Zayed Central Library, and Sharjah Public Library. 


Students who study in the UAE are likely to travel via a public mode of transport. The country has various public transportation facilities to offer. These include metro, tram, public buses, taxis, and ride-hailing apps. 

Students can travel using a singular mode of transport or switch between modes. For instance – completing half the commute via public bus and switching to metro or tram. All public transport tickets can be paid using the NOL card – a contactless smart card. 

There are different kinds of NOL cards available. The public transport fares depend upon the journey length and the type of card used. These are mentioned in further detail below –

Length of Journey Type of Card Commute Fare (in AED)
Within One Zone  Gold Card 6
Silver Card 3
Personal Card 3
Red Ticket 4
In Two Adjacent Zones Gold Card 10
Silver Card 5
Personal Card 5
Red Ticket 6
More Than Two Zones Gold Card 15
Silver Card 7.5
Personal Card 7.5
Red Ticket 8.5

Frequent commuters benefit through a personal NOL Card, which offers 50% discounts on fares to senior citizens and students. 

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